Mary's Ascension?

I’m sure someone here can help answer this question. Could someone tell me how we (Catholics) came to the understanding that Mary ascended bodily into heaven? Did people see it happen, or was it an idea of popular belief that turned into doctrine over time? Thanks for your help.

First, a critical distinction: Jesus ascended [active]; Mary was assumed [passive]. The short answer is Sacred Tradition. The belief that Mary was assumed body and soul into heaven is attested to by the Church Fathers from the earliest times. The widespread belief is supported by Sacred Scripture with respect to Mary’s freedom from sin and grace-filled nature. The Magisterium, acting under the promised inspiration of the Holy Spirit, endorsed the knowledge of Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition as a dogma of the Faith.

On the non-essential but interesting side of things, ever notice how there are no relics of Mary? Just a thought.


This is what is going to happen to ALL of us at the end of time.

Assuming we end up in heaven, of course :ehh: - either way our body will, at the end of time, join our soul in whatever eternal fate it is assigned to.

But yes, it is tradition from the earliest days of the Church that Mary was given the same honour accorded to Enoch and Elijah in the Old Testament and bodily assumed into heaven. Which, as has been pointed out, is not the same thing at all as Christ’s ascension.

There is a written account of her ‘Dormition’, as our Eastern Christian brothers term it, dating from the 4th century if I remember correctly. And the feast of the Assumption was celebrated and many churches named in honour of her Assumption well before it was declared as dogma in the 1950s.

It’s Mary’s ASSUMPTION!!! I hate to be nit-picky, but she was assumed, meaning Christ took her into heaven, rather than she ascended, meaning Mary went up under her own power.

I believe it was an idea that became a doctrine. The oldest known accounting of it was around 400-500 AD. It was reported that the Apostles went to her Crypt and the Body was gone.

Thank you for the correction, ie. ascension vs assumption. Does it concern anyone else that we are asked to believe something so important as this, with nothing other than Tradition to act as a guide? I suppose one could say that the Holy Spirit guides our tradition, but that seems… I dont know…a lack of an explanition. Here I sit, struggling against my natural skepticism.

A detailed history of the development of this dogma is found in the encyclical which defined it, *Munificentissimus Deus *issued by Pope Pius XII in 1950. (Note that it was a firm belief of the Church for many, many years before that. Often the Church does not formally define something until it comes under attack.)

You can read it at . You will find much support from Scripture throughout the document.

I think you are making the assumption (:smiley: ) that Tradition is less true than Scripture. This of course is not accurate.

The Holy Spirit protects the Church in her teaching of both written Tradition (scripture) and oral Tradition. I suggest that in addition to studying the actual dogma of the Assumption, you study Authority. I think it will really enlighten you.

I have absolute trust and peace about all the Church’s doctrines and dogmas. Being a Catholic is a very peaceful gift when it comes to doctrine.

Thank you PhilotheaZ for the web site, and leonie for the advice. Both were humbly accepted.

The Dormition is different from the Assumption. The Dormition commemorates Mary’s earthly death and funeral while the Assumption commemorates her bodily resurrection and deification three days later. The two events are commemorated together in the East on the Feast of the Dormition. In the West, the Dormition is allowed but not required for the faithful to believe.

The Dormition Fast lasts two weeks (August 1-14) leading up to the Feast of the Dormition. It is an important feast for each of us because it is a foretaste of what will happen after the Second Coming. Just as Mary’s soul and body were reunited, and just as she lives in constant unity with God, we who run the race will also be deified, or become one with God through theosis.

The tradition is one that comes to us from the earliest of Church Fathers. You can read more about it here.

[quote=Woodstock]…the Assumption commemorates her bodily resurrection and deification…

Not quite. :slight_smile: Mary was never “deified.” :bigyikes:

She isn’t a goddess nor the fourth member of the Trinity. I’m sure you meant some other term, yes? :yup:

These are the festal hymns one would hear on the Feast of the Dormition.

O Theotokos, in giving birth you preserved virginity;
and in your falling asleep you did not forsake the world.
You are the Mother of Life and have been transferred to life,
and through your prayers you deliver our souls from death.

The grave and death did not detain the Theotokos.
She intercedes without rest and is our unfailing hope of protection;
for he who dwelt in the womb of the Ever Virgin
transferred to life the Mother of Life.

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.
For her has looked with favor on the humility of her servant; from this day forward, all generations will call me blessed.

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
Go up, Lord, to your rest, you and your holy ark.
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
The Lord swore a true oath to David; he will not go back on his word.
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

**The angels were struck with amazement beholding the dormition of the Most Pure; seeing how the Virgin was taken up from the earth to heaven.

The limits of nature are overcome in you, O pure Virgin
for birthgiving remains virginal
and death is the prelude to life;
a virgin after childbearing and alive after death!
You ever save you inheritance, O Theotokos.

I did not mean another term. Deification or divinization is precisely the term that the church uses to explain what we are all hoping to attain.

In Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic theology, theosis, meaning deification or divinization or even “becoming gods”, is the call to man to become holy and seek union with God, beginning in this life and later consummated in the resurrection. Theosis comprehends our salvation from sin; is premised upon apostolic and early Christian understanding of the life of faith; and is conceptually foundational in both the east and the west.

It does not mean becoming a goddess, but becoming one with God. There is a phrase, more popular in the east, which says, “God became man so that man might become God.” There is a distinction between the essence and the energy of God which I am not the best person to explain, but the gist of it is that one has fully united himself to God, which is the goal of our theosis or divinization, or our journey to Christ.

Though it is not as popular in the west, you can find it in the Catechism at paragraph 460, referencing Aquinas, of all people. :thumbsup:

**460 **The Word became flesh to make us “partakers of the divine nature”:78 "For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God."79 "For the Son of God became man so that we might become God."80 "The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods."81

78 2 Pt 1:4.
79 St. Irenaeus, Adv. haeres. 3, 19, 1: PG 7/1, 939.
80 St. Athanasius, De inc. 54, 3: PG 25, 192B.
81 St. Thomas Aquinas, Opusc. 57, 1-4.

swamp yankeee said : ‘Here I sit, struggling against my natural skepticism.’

Skepticism is natural. The saducees teach that death is final. But, consider this : Even if all that the materialists say is true : That we are merely a collection of atoms, then what is to stop science from rearranging those atoms to bring on ressurection? Which ever way you look at it, the soul is immortal.

Long live the legacy of John the Baptist.

An expression of this thought is found in the Prayer over the Gifts at the beginning of the Liturgy of the Eucharist in the Latin Rite, where the priest says: “By the mystery of this water and wine may we come to share in the Divinity of Christ, who humbled himself to share in our humanity.”

I’m personally uncomfortable with the term “deification” because it implies that there are Gods outside the One Trinitarian God. It is just way too close to Mormon theology.

However, some of the Church Fathers did use this term. In reading the Fathers’ use of this term, it’s important to pay attention to context.

I prefer the term divinization, which is when one becomes god-like through Grace, like the water and the wine being mixed together at Mass. Being god-like is a whole lot different than becoming a God.

If we start using the term deification, I fear it will only give anti-Catholics and anti-Orthodox “fundamentalist, bible-alone Christians” ammunition to fire at us.

Just my opinion though, and I could be wrong.

God Bless!

Mary Ann

Hello, Swamp Yankee,

No, it doesn’t concern me - but I wasn’t raised Catholic (and I’m not Catholic YET), so my viewpoint is maybe a bit different … I’m still on the outside looking in, and when I come across something like that, that makes me think ‘WHY would Catholics believe that, just based on tradition?’

And then I start studying to find out. :wink: In my limited experience, there’s usually a heavily-documented history of why the Church believes anything… but yes, sometimes it just comes down to faith and trust.

But as my Mum used to say, ‘God gave you a brain - USE IT’. I mean that more kindly than she did (grin), though - I’m just trying to say that healthy skepticism is good… think, and then start doing research. And, as you did here, ask others - good for you!

Sorry, I’m rambling - I did just mean to commiserate. :slight_smile: I do understand how it feels to want more of a reason to believe than just the fact that someone else has told you to.

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